Behind the red brick walls and big green gates of St Roch’s FC, a massive community operation is quietly and brilliantly changing lives in Glasgow’s east end.

The popular junior football club, known locally as the Roch, or the Candy, has reached out to its supporters and their families, and local residents, in a variety of clever and creative ways.

From homework clubs and jobseeking projects, to employability initiatives and free football academies, this club – and the inspirational team which runs it – know exactly the challenges its community faces.

And they are prepared to do something about it.

“I’m a great believer a junior football club should be at the heart of its community,” says manager and club secretary Andy Cameron, who took over the running of St Roch’s five seasons ago.

“There’s a lot of poverty in this part of Glasgow. We wanted to do something about that.”

On a quick tour of the clubhouse, recently spruced up by apprentices from Streets Ahead partner City Building, it’s obvious St Roch’s is proud of its heritage. Giant photographs, of the very first St Roch’s team in 1920 and the 1922 Scottish Cup-winning players, cover the walls. There’s one of Jimmy McGrory, too, a giant of the game in whose honour the club’s home at James McGrory Park, has been named.

On the pitch, the team is doing well. It recently earned its second promotion in four years at the end of the season, just losing out on winning the league in the last moments of its final game. (The club’s 13-year-olds’ team, the St Roch’s 2004s, DID win the league.)

Off the pitch, its achievements are even more impressive. Behind the scenes, a core team of around 10 volunteers – no-one takes a salary, not even Andy – do everything; funding comes from donations, grants and sponsorship from the likes of Network Private Hire, Glasgow Housing Association and the Celtic Foundation; and the impact its community projects have had is remarkable.

There’s the football academy, which welcomes around 180 kids to free summer holiday coaching sessions; the free homework club, which supports local high school students through their maths and physics courses - and recently helped one young pupil gain a place at Cambridge University; festive dinners for local pensioners and homeless people through action group The Invisibles; a jobseeking club, so people can come in and use free WiFi to search for work; and the Tigers employability scheme, where young people can come in to learn construction skills.

Kieran McDonald, 17, is one of the young construction apprentices.

“I’m from just up the road in Milton,” he says. “It’s great getting to work here. My girlfriend’s grandad once owned the club and he always wanted to see it getting done up. It’s good to be part of that.”

Tigers trainer Danny Gemmell says: “This is a home from home for lots of local kids. We are very lucky to get the chance to work on a site project – St Roch’s goes above and beyond to support us.

“It’s about giving people self-belief and ultimately, it can change lives.”

The plans don’t stop here. The team has plans to develop a Men’s Shed project – which helps men beat isolation and loneliness – and a regular pensioners’ lunch club, building on the success of their festive dinners project, plus a free gym for local residents and a mental health walking group.

Fundraising is always a challenge – new advertising hoardings have gone up on the main road, so the team is hoping more local businesses, like taxi company Network Private Hire, which is the club’s biggest financial supporter, will sign up. The club’s hoping to build a new stand, get its women’s team back up and running, and to improve the toilet facilities.

Crucial to the success of the whole operation, are the men and women behind the scenes.

Ken Haynes and Billy Reid, for example, are the ‘odd-job men’, giving up their days off and weekends to paint railings, cut grass and keep the clubhouse clean.

Billy, who is a social care worker, says: “I came along with my son Steven, and my grandson Connor, about four years ago to watch my nephew Daniel play.

“I liked the whole atmosphere here, the way the club interacts with its fans, the way it supports the community.”

He adds: “This is a pretty deprived area, so to see people getting opportunities is fantastic.”

Elsewhere, Ken’s wife Frances, and Andy’s wife Donna and her friends Angie and Tracy, help out in the kitchen on match days. Long time St Roch’s supporter Michael Kennoway is the fans’ liaison. Everyone lends a hand.

“Without these guys, we couldn’t function,” says Andy, simply. “They do such a lot of great work and we are looking into getting accreditation up and running, as it would be nice to formally recognise their efforts.”

He adds: “But St Roch’s is much more than just one man or one small team of volunteers.

“Hopefully what we have started here will continue, long after we move on.”

Operations manager Stevie Mullen played for St Roch’s in the 80s, and he acknowledges the club has changed completely since then.

“It had to change,” he says, matter-of-factly. “Otherwise, we’re just a bit of ground a football team plays on. That’s not good enough – we want to be a one-stop shop for the whole community.”

Fan liaison Michael Kennoway sums it up.

“For me, St Roch’s has broken down a lot of barriers,” he says. “There were gangs here, terrible violence, between communities in Royston, Blackhill and the Garngad.

“Now people from all three communities stand together on the terraces every Saturday. That’s what it’s about. There was a divide, now there is friendship, and that’s down to St Roch’s FC.”